Here is another great story submitted for our upcoming "Growing Up in Edina: A Show and Tell Exhibit" that will open Saturday, Oct. 29. If this sparks any memories for you, please comment here or email me. If you have one of the Wooddale Carnival posters to loan, I would love it for the exhibit.
By Susie Paplow
Growing up in Edina was a true joy… the lessons I learned, the teachers who inspired me, my warm and friendly neighbors and the wonderful world I was introduced to through the programs and activities Edina had to offer. All of this shaped me into the adult I have become.
I lived in Edina at 4910 Bruce Avenue from 1968 through 1977. The people who lived on Bruce Avenue were extremely social – block parties, Mr. Benson playing Santa Claus every year, the annual 4th of July picnic at the Wiltz Manse [the former Baird historic home], the Bruce Avenue Open (for the adults only), an annual golf tournament. I wonder whatever happened to the trophy that would bounce from house to house each year or if they still even have the golf tournament. It was a wonderful neighborhood full of kids and adults enjoying life.
However, my most vivid memories of Edina are of the days spent at the wonderful grade school I attended from kindergarten through 6th grade. Of course, I am speaking of the infamous Wooddale School. Sadly, it no longer exists - just the cornerstone memorial on the site but it certainly still exists in my memory. I think of it often: my teachers Mr. Kenyon, Mrs. Fairbanks, Mr. Behring, Mr. Waggoner, Ms. Chapman, Ms. Bisanz, all truly inspiration and influential.
I spent so much time at Wooddale. During the school year, of course, but also during the summers where I participated in the wonderful summer parks program Edina offered, with its puppet truck and the Olympics at the end of each summer. I still have the many ribbons won for croquet tournaments, bean bag tosses, 500 yard dashes and my badge that says “I’m from Utley Park.” The parks program was truly wonderful.
The amazing Wooddale Carnivals, does anyone still have those posters? Each year the school had a poster contest, and the posters were placed in shop windows up and down 50th and France and we would rush out to see if we received a ribbon! The Carnival was an amazing day, the school rooms magically transformed into a series of games, events, cake walks, goldfish in bags, the mysterious “fortune telling room.” It was a sensory explosion walking through the doors of the school. You didn’t recognize it as the place you went to from 7:45 to 3:30 every weekday. I think I still have a black plastic spatula, one of the many goodies included in the carnival gift bags we all received. The Wooddale Carnival was something we waited for all year long.
However the biggest influence on my life was the introduction to the world of theater and dance through the Wooddale School Dance Program. Attached you will find programs and several pictures from some of the years I participated. I have since grown up to become a professional performer and choreographer. All of which would never have happened if I had not had my start at good old Wooddale School.
Enjoy the trip down memory lane. Perhaps you are one of the many young girls listed in these programs or appearing in these pictures. If you are, I hope you are well and hope that you have as soft spot in your Edina as I.
Note: I emailed Susie to find out more about her career. After high school graduation, Paplow won a spot in the Pushcart Players, the premier touring theatre for young audiences in New Jersey and traveled from school to school presenting educational yet entertaining musicals designed to inspire children to think, learn and create. "Pushcart is a wonderful company and I have traveled the world with them - from Russia to Vienna to two private invitations to the White House," she wrote back.
She earned an "Applause Award" for outstanding contribution to the State's arts programs, with work at most of New Jersey's professional theaters, "but my true passion goes back to bringing the joy and magic of live theater directly to the kids in their school. It takes me right back to being on the Wooddale Auditorium stage, with its old fashioned footlights and strip lights. It inspired me then and has shaped the course of my life."
This is Percy Redpath, the city's first full-time paid police officer, hired in 1931.
This is Martha Johnson, long-time volunteer for the Edina Historical Society.
Percy Redpath patrolled the dirt roads of the village as well as the paved streets of the Country Club District, where Martha grew up. The two have never met - except on paper.
For the past several months, Martha has spent her Thursday mornings transcribing Redpath's daily police log, handwritten in diaries for 1931 and 1932. Outside of his family, Martha probably knows more about Redpath than anyone after reading his daily log. I am grateful for her efforts to transform Redpath's jottings, sometimes in very faint pencil scratchings, into a great document for researchers.
Redpath's writings provide a wonderful picture of Edina life during the Depression years. For those who think the "old days" were a simpler time, think again. Even though much of Redpath’s logs documented speeders kicking up the dust at 25 mph or couples “spooning” on country roads, he also dealt with some serious crimes. Here are just a few highlights from the log book:
Friday, Jan. 23, 1931
Description [of] man [who] attacked girl with club 35-40, 5’-8” 180 lbs. Lt. complex[ion]. Short brown sheep lined coat, light cap, 4 day beard
Sunday, Feb. 1, 1931
8:00 p.m. Sedan parked field off 60 St. and France. Couple [in] rear seat. Suggestion of heat. But guy’s trousers buttoned up according to latest regulations.
Saturday, Feb. 7, 1931
10 p.m. – Call to #55 [Minneapolis squad]. Boys on roof of stores, 50th Street and Xerxes throwing snow balls at pedestrians. Was at 50th and France at time of call. Made run, held boys until #55 came.
Tuesday, Feb. 10, 1931
8:30 Religious nut – sitting by fresh made fire – just off Hanson Road. Clean and honest face. …(Long hair, beard.) What police would term a lodger. Refused space in C.C. Garage for him, found him a place to sleep. Sent him to U.G Mission in a.m. [Note: probably Union Gospel Mission in Minneapolis.]
Sunday, Feb. 15, 1931
12:30 (a.m.) Usual run of maids returning to Country Club District.
Friday, Feb. 20, 1931
3:30 (a.m.) Collegiate party treasure hunters in search of #13 green on Golf Course. Told them where #13 was.
Saturday, March 7, 1931
8:45 Radio call – 56 St and Normandale, prowler. At my home – wife thought she saw and heard someone around buildings. Not found.
Monday, March 16, 1931
Radio call – 3121 West 56th St. Horse destroying property. Horse had been annoying for a week and found him eating on H. Bachman’s lawn – above address – signs of damage to lawn. Did not know who owned horse. Found owner – had horse taken home and warned to keep him up.
Sunday, April 26, 1931
10:50 Call to #50 and #55 [Minneapolis squads]. Hold up at 50th and France. … Arrived … just ahead of St. Louis Park Car. Civilians had left in pursuit of stick up car south on Halifax. … Sheriff’s got the hold-up man in chicken shack. All credit due to pursuers.
Wednesday, May 6, 1931
1:15 a.m. Radio call – 4528 Casco. Some trouble. Visitor thought his car stolen. It had run away. Found and parked it on Bridge St. at 9:30.
Sunday, May 24, 1931
9:30 Radio call… Insane man threatening to shoot. [Went to house and one of the grown sons] had struck his mother and oldest brother on head with heavy bolt or similar object cutting open their heads. Mother must be about 80. Found him hiding amongst the cows in barn. Held at our car until Sheriff’s car arrived.
As a second half of the project, we'd like to research some of the incidents. Wouldn't it be fun to find out what exactly the city regulations were regarding spooning? Apparently, it required a gentleman's trousers to be buttoned up, but what else makes sitting in a car at the side of the road an illicit activity? What does the "usual run of maids" mean? My guess is that the live-in maids in the Country Club District left every Friday and returned late every Sunday night.
If you would like to know more about Redpath, please see the story I wrote for the Spring 2007 membership newsletter. If you'd like to read more of Redpath's log, stop in during regular museum hours.
Thank you to Martha and the Redpath family for helping us make the log books accessible to researchers.
This building was originally called Nolan's Cafe, which opened just across from the Edina Theater in the late 1930s with a similar building style and signage. It later became known as the Edina Cafeteria, and was remodeled. Some of the original architectural details of the Art Deco style -- curved lines at the entrance and curved glass block windows in the tower -- were obscured. I'd need to do more research to determine when the restaurant closed. The site, 3926 W. 50th Street, is now filled with women's clothing boutiques.
Nancy Wallace Wild drew this map of her world as she saw it in 1922 when she grew up on 50th and Halifax in Edina. Instead of boutiques at 50th and France, there was a blacksmith. Where movie-goers now line up to see art films at the Edina Theater, farmers came to drop off their milk at a creamery. Where the bank parking lot is today, the Wallace home graced an expansive lawn several feet from the dirt 50th Street. (Long-time residents may remember the Wallace home, which served as Edina's first standalone library in the 1950s and 60s.)
In a few short years, the rural village Wild describes would change dramatically when Henry Brown's cattle pasture would transform into upscale homes of the Country Club District, which was platted in 1924. The "new Edina School," (which residents now refer to as Wooddale School) would replace the much smaller 1888 brick school on the other side of the creek.The Grange, a meeting hall for a farm organization, would move to make way for St. Stephen's Episcopal Church at 50th and Wooddale.
I love this map because it shows in detail an Edina that no longer exists and as no properly surveyed map could. No other map would designate a "big hill for sliding" or a "bag swing," things that rank as significant landmarks for kids, but not so much for official mapmakers.
I did learn from her map that the area had a block factory, which appears to be on 49 1/2 Street, then just wheel tracks behind the Wallace home. Wild describes it in Allie, her 1997 memoir about her sister, not because it was an important Edina industry but because it was a gathering spot for children.
"What normally would not be considered a playground was the block factory and its two sand pits, located a short distance from our house, accessible by way of the wheel tracks behind our property. Its main attraction was the huge, flat stacks of finished cement blocks of finished cement blocks. The stacks, three or four parallel to each other, must have been about 100 feet long, a fourth as wide and 10 or 12 feet high. They served as our play 'palaces.' To get on top we just had to find a place of unevenly stacked blocks, places also where secret inner stairways formed, and climb up, often scraping ourselves on the rough cement but not minding. Once up there we could walk and run along the flat, slightly uneven surface, always on the lookout for the 'holes' where the inner stairways were. The two nearby sand pits provided another kind of sport; we made running leaps into the sand, leaving many a shoe or sock behind. Even the factory itself had playtime possibilities, like climbing the conveyor belt and then sitting on the side of the square funnel at the top and peering down to where the loose sand blended with the powdered cement. That was scary!"
Wild isn't the only one who drew a map of their childhood haunts. I will include more child's eye views of Edina in upcoming blog posts as well as in our upcoming exhibit, "Growing Up in Edina."
Assignment Edina: Draw a map of your own childhood landmarks. Who were your neighbors? Where did you play? How far did your world extend - could you bicycle miles away or did could you only go as far as you could hear your mother's whistle to come home? I'd love to see what you come up with.
Does anyone remember National Tea Company? Despite its misleading name in the city phone directory, it sold more than tea and wisely chose to advertise that fact by putting "food stores" on its building. The full-fledged grocery store was one of several in a national chain based in Chicago. For more on the company, see the Encyclopedia of Chicago web site.
National opened in Edina in the later 1940s, and apparently remodeled based on the differences in the two photos. The chain struggled after being bought out by a Canadian company in the 1960s, and the Edina store was one of the casualties.
The site at 3945 West 50th Street is now a Lunds grocery store, which was originally just across the street. Some long-time residents will remember that Lunds opened in 1942 as a Hove's supermarket. For more on Lunds history, see the Lunds & Byerly's web site.
When I saw this photo in a collection brought in for our upcoming "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit, I had to ask the donor more questions. How did a chimp happen to attend a birthday party? Was it a pet? Or was the chimp borrowed? I've heard of renting ponies or magicians for a child's celebration, but never a monkey.
Al and Fran Siftar, who have lived at 4248 Crocker Avenue in Morningside since 1957, had three children with birthdays in the same week. Understandably, the combined birthday parties were a big deal in their house. One of the first memorable celebrations included a October 1959 visit from Zsa Zsa, a chimp from the Southdale mall petting zoo that the Siftar kids liked to visit every Sunday afternoon. For "something like $25," Al picked up the chimp and brought her home to the children (who appear to take their unusual visitor in stride. They seem much more fascinated by the cake.)
Maybe a chimpanzee visit was a common occurrence in Edina, I don't know. But it was unusual enough that the Minneapolis Tribune published the above photo of Suzanne, 3, Frances, 2, and Charles, 1.
In case you're wondering, future Siftar birthday parties would also include pony rides and clowns.
How did you celebrate your birthday? Was it a simple celebration at home with your family or did you go somewhere like Queen Anne Kiddieland or Chuck E. Cheese? Did you have a special cake? What were some memorable presents? I think it would be fun to include a collage of birthday celebrations in the exhibit. Contact me about donating your photo, or loaning it for us to copy.
Note: I will write about the petting zoo at Southdale mall in a future post. We have a photo of the pens located in the garden court area when it opened, but I haven't scanned it yet. If you remember anything about the popular attraction when Southdale first open, I'd love to hear your stories.
With the date fast approaching for the exhibit opening for "Growing Up in Edina," I've been asked a lot lately about what kind of stuff people have donated or loaned.
I could say come in to the museum for our exhibit opening party on Oct. 29 and see for yourself. I won't, though. I love to share the excitement over "new old stuff" with visitors and volunteers, so I'm happy to share some recent acquisitions with you, our online visitor. Because the subtitle of the display is "A Show and Tell Exhibit," I thought I'd show you a few things while I told you about them.
This Noah's Ark was brought in by Don Wray, who grew up in Morningside. His father Robin built him the toy in the 1930s. "I played with the ark through my childhood at 4243 Scott Terrace, the home my parents built when they were married and lived in for more than 60 years," Don said.
When Don grew up and married, he moved a block away on Alden Drive and the ark came with him. His son now has the ark for his own children in southern Minnesota; daughter Betsy lives in the original Wray home on Scott Terrace. Three generations of Wray children have loved and played with the ark,
This 1955 Murray Fleetline Deluxe bicycle was brought in by former Edina art teacher David Schmit. Nearly every person who talks about their childhood in Edina mentions their bicycle adventures through town. I thought this bike will help us illustrate kids' major mode of travel.
The bike even has an Edina license plate from 1955-57 behind the seat.
Although my official deadline has passed for loaning or donating items for the exhibit, I will still take your stories, photos and artifacts -- with the caveat that I can't promise I'll process everything by the grand opening on Oct. 29. I will do my best to include your item, especially if it comes in sooner rather than later.
For more information, call the museum at 612-928-4577 or email me.
"The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different." —Aldous Huxley
As new Southdale owners are re-envisioning the retail mix of business at the mall, they're considering adding a grocery store. That surprised some museum visitors, who wondered whether shoppers really would buy a cart full of groceries when they come to a mall for things like Ugg boots, down comforters or a new pair of eyeglasses.
Southdale, in fact, opened in 1956 with a 30,000-square-foot Red Owl, which was then the largest grocery in the Upper Midwest. By 1950s standards, this store was huge. Keep in mind that this was 1956, years before huge warehouse-style Rainbow and Cub Foods came on the scene.
Here is the boxed cereal section. Pretty impressive even by today's super store standards.
The store was located on the Dayton's (now Macy's) side of the mall (north end). Here's an interior shot.
Here's an exterior view showing its location compared to Dayton's, as well as how those truckloads of cereal and other items got into the store.
And another image showing how the groceries got out. Shoppers also had the option of a "Pick Up Station," where (museum visitors tell me) groceries came out on a conveyor and store employees loaded them into your waiting car. (You may have noticed a Pick Up Station sign in the photo of the interior.)
Mrs. Shopper, just as Southdale developer Victor Gruen envisioned in the 1950s brochure below, could spend a cold January morning in the indoor comfort of a shopping center that duplicated the services of a traditional downtown, including No. 5 : "Buy the family groceries." Brochure is part of Edina Historical Society's Southdale collection.
Red Owl moved out of the mall in 1973, just across the street on York Avenue. One of the Edina municipal liquor stores, which was located next to Red Owl inside the mall, moved out at the same time to the neighboring address.
The stand alone grocery store would later be torn down and replaced by Cub Foods.
I haven't yet found any documentation on why Red Owl left Southdale. The city apparently opted to own its liquor store property rather than paying rent, perhaps Red Owl executives shared the same view. (See story on liquor store history by Joe Sullivan in the City of Edina's Spring 2005 About Business publication.)
Will a new grocery store succeed at Southdale? Will it bring in more traffic and business to other stores in the mall? Although history can help inform decisions, retail is constantly reinvented and what is old is new again. People with better marketing skills than I will ultimately make that decision.
Despite all the uncertainties, I do know one thing: two big bunches of celery will not sell for 25 cents, the price seen in the last photo.
Here's something to cool to think about on this hot August day: ice castles.
Edina built an ice castle in January 1988 to kick off events to celebrate its 100th birthday. Volunteers cut ice from Lake Cornelia.
And stacked the cubes, according to a design drawn up by Edina resident and architect Foster Dunwiddie.
The design was modeled after Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.
I think that's pretty cool, in more ways than one.
Note: Edina's 125h anniversary is coming up in 2013. What should the community do to mark this big occasion? Help us brainstorm by commenting below or by emailing us.
I love opening the mail (both USPS and electronic) these days because I get to read all the great stories and photos submitted for our upcoming "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit. Here's a fun one from Sherry Ott Buffington, who went to elementary school in the 1950s. She and her family lived at three different Edina addresses over the years: 5524 Brookview Avenue, 5809 Kellogg Avenue and 4431 West 52nd Street.
The official deadline has passed for submissions to the exhibit, but I will continue to take stories and artifacts for loan or donation with the disclaimer that I can't promise I'll process everything by the Oct. 29 grand opening date (especially if it all comes in the week before.) I will get them in the exhibit as soon as I can, however. For the sake of my sanity and a successful exhibit, please contact me as soon as possible.
Perhaps this story will prompt some memories...
Sherry Ott with her sister Bonnie and their beloved Ginny dolls.
By Sherry (Ott) Buffington
Summers growing up in Edina were wonderfully - busy or lazy days, whatever you wanted them to be.
My friend Miriam Anderson and I would ride our bikes from 52nd and Wooddale to the hub of Edina, 50th and France, at least once a week and sometimes more often. First stop was the Edina Library, located in an old house on a hill. Both avid readers, Miriam and I turned in our books and checked out a new batch for the next few days of reading. (Later, in high school, we would both work at the Edina Library - our first jobs.)
Paper dolls provided hours of fun for a quarter.
Then on to Clancy Drugs for a cherry or lime coke at the counter. Clancy's Toyland in the basement was a fun place to browse. We occasionally bought paper doll books for about a quarter and later would spend hours on Miriam's breezeway cutting out the clothes - hours of fun for only a quarter.
After our stop at Clancy's we would walk through James Hager Women's Clothing store and Hove's/Lund's, stopping to drool at the pastries in the bakery. Occasionally we might stop at the Edina Cafeteria for a snack.
Our next destinations were the dime stores - Ben Franklin on one side of the street and another on the other side. Around the corner was Nelson's Dry Goods where we checked out Betty's latest doll fashions with her trademark ribbon and lace. Ginny (by Vogue) was a popular doll, and my Ginny doll had a pretty large wardrobe. I must have really liked the color pink as most of the doll clothes from Nelson's were that color. (See photo below.)
Doll clothes sewn by Betty Gustafson of Nelson's Dry Goods.
I remember walking past the Dance Studio and the Brown Derby bar (which we were told by our parents not ever to go in), catching a glimpse of grown-up activities.
When younger, I remember going with my dad to the freezer lockers at 44th and France. On hot days that cold freezer air was a real treat. The freezer compartment in our refrigerator was so small we had to store meat at the locker and make trips there to pick up our meat for dinner. Of course no trip to 44tha and France was complete without a stop at Carlson's Odd Shop - a child's delight with so many toys crammed in little spaces. You could hardly walk in the aisles.
I also remember when we lived on Kellogg Avenue, walking up to Valley View Road with my sister Bonnie and a group of neighbor kids. We would make the long hike (really only a few blocks!) for a treat of candy or ice cream at Emma's (Tedman's). We felt so grown up!
Later when when lived on West 52nd Street, Ray's Dairy Store on 54th and France had the best selection of penny candy in town. If you were lucky, you might hear the sounds of Ray's daughter, Suzanne, playing piano upstairs.
All in all, it was a great childhood - picnics and birthday parties in the backyard, swimming at the Edina pool, riding bikes all over, playing badminton at dusk under the street light, ice skating in the park, and sliding down the hills at the Edina Country Club.
Search this blog:
Jennifer Adam is the Executive Director of the Edina Historical Society. She welcomes your contributions. Comment on a post or send an email (see below). Traditional mail, of course, can also be sent to:
Thank you, your message has been sent
Support this blog!
Help us bring you Edina history with this web site by becoming a member or donating today. Click on the link to our GiveMN.org site to make a donation with a credit card. The Edina Historical Society is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that depends on contributions to continue operation.